My daily devotional readings are guided by the Upper Room devotional called A Guide to Prayer for All Who Walk with God. As it prepares us for Holy Week in anticipation of Easter Sunday, the authors provide a brief commentary on the season of Easter. In churches that observe the liturgical church calendar, Easter is not merely one day, but a season of 50 days that ends with Pentecost. The implications of the resurrection are more than can simply be digested in one day.
What are some of those implications? Death is not the end of our existence. Violence is not victorious over all other forms of response. With the message that Christ has been raised we proclaim that God’s light overcomes the darkness of evil. This new world, which the gospel writers call the “Kingdom of God/Heaven,” has begun to reign on earth as it is in heaven. We can begin to live into this new reality right away.
To be sure, this Kingdom has not come in all its fullness. There is still suffering and pain and violence in the world. But that is not our future; that is not the future of creation no matter how many dystopian movies we see or books we read. We have the presence of the Risen Lord abiding with us in our times of trial and trouble. We have the promise of God’s salvation for the whole world (John 3:17)!
Our task during this season of Easter is to reflect upon the marvelous implications of the resurrection. As Jesus told the disciples in John 16:12, “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now,” so it is with us today. There is more here than what we can absorb all at once. Just as the Holy Spirit was to come and guide the disciples into “all the truth,” so do we need this season of Easter to both ingest and digest all the wonderful implications of Christ’s resurrection.
To grasp the extravagant mercy that God shows to us, to embody the boundless love that Jesus had for those he met and taught and healed, to share this message of hope and salvation with those whom we meet — all of this takes time to settle into our psyche. There was probably a divine reason that the day of Pentecost didn’t happen immediately following Jesus’ resurrection. The disciples needed some time to grapple with the sudden change of events, from a time of deep despair over the agony of Jesus’ death to the wonderfully unbelievable news that he had been raised from the dead. How this would change their lives, motivate their actions, and shape the direction of the rest of their lives would take some time to mature and come to fruition. In the fullness of God’s timing, the Holy Spirit came upon them at Pentecost to empower and enable them to live out this new reality.
May we use the season of Easter, not to file away this wondrous event until 2016, but to use these 50 days as a way of integrating and preparing for what God has in store for us when Pentecost rolls around once more.